Israeli Eating Patterns

Three main features define Israeli eating patterns: adherence to the ritual dietary by a majority population, the Jews to the Kosher dietary laws, and the Arabs to the Halal dietary laws.
 
The food habits associated with the religious and national holidays, and the heterogeneous nature of the population. Israel has absorbed millions of immigrants since its founding, and each immigrant group brought with it a  distinctive cuisine, so that the cuisine today is multifaceted ,reflecting the various communities in the country and their diverse geographical and cultural origins.
 
The fast and popular food is vegetarian Falafel (mashed chickpeas balls) or Humus (mashed chickpeas spared) both served with Pita bread French fries and vegetable salad and Tehina (sesame paste).  Another popular option is Shawarma (sliced turkey or lamb meat) also served inside a pita, or its larger cousin Lafa, with 'Hummus-Chips-Salat'. Many other things can fit pita bread: for example, Me'orav Yerushalmi (Jerusalemite mix), which contain several types of meat, or Schnitzel (a batter fried chicken breast).
 
For those Jews adhering to the Kosher dietary laws, only certain types of meat (slaughtered, salted   and soaked according to ritual law) and fish may be eaten. Pork and rabbit are excluded, as are shellfish. Dairy dishes must be cooked and eaten separately from meat dishes. Fish, eggs, grains, fruits and vegetables may be eaten with either meat or milk.
 
For those Arabs adhering to the  Halal dietary laws, only certain types of meat (slaughtered , according to ritual law) may be eaten. Forbidden food  items include pork and all its products; animals improperly slaughtered; alcoholic drinks, including all forms of intoxicants; carnivorous animals; birds of prey; and any food contaminated with any of these products.
Israelis traditionally started their days with a large breakfast, consisting of salads, a variety of cheeses, eggs, salted fish, olives, other pickles, bread /rolls/pita, juice and coffee. Today, often the day starts, especially for children, with a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal (often the sweetened variety), milk and perhaps a fruit. Adults may have bread or pita, with white cheese (soft cheese, cottage or salty cheese- usually low fat), perhaps a yoghurt or buttermilk, some salad or olives and almost always coffee- usually Turkish. If rushing to work, breakfast might be only a pastry with coffee. Within the Arab population, coffee, usually very strong, and sweet, is often served from a communal dish.
 
The midday meal patterns of adults are determined largely  by the nature of their work.   In many work places, a hot lunch is provided, this being the main meal of the day. Meal choices include Schnitzel, chicken (in its various forms), fish and stuffed vegetables. Popular side dishes are potatoes, chips, rice , pasta as well as cooked vegetables .Salads feature routinely, especially "Israeli salad"- diced tomatoes, cucumbers and red/ green peppers, with olive oil. Other salads include Humus with Tehina, eggplant ( Baba Ganouche), cabbage salad and coleslaw.  Most adults take bread with their meals, with Pita being the choice among the Arab population. Soft drinks feature, the favorite being cola. Fruit is abundant, with citrus fruit, bananas, watermelon, grapes, and melon, widely consumed.
 
The evening meal is usually a lighter one consisting of dairy products, salads, avocado, olives, pickled cucumbers, and eggs, including egg dishes such as Shakshouka. It may include Burekas, Pizza and meat substitutes (vegetarian schnitzel, sausages), and Melawach. Bread or Pita is almost always consumed. Coffee again is the favored drink, along with soft drinks. Tea with mint or other herbs is popular also.
 
Alcohol generally doesn't feature at midweek meals, with the (mainly Moslem) Arab population, and the more orthodox Jewish population drinking rarely. Wine is consumed for ritual purposes, by Jews, on a weekly basis (Sabbath) , though in very limited amounts.
 
Cakes, biscuits and crackers are popular, and include chocolate-filled yeast cakes (Rugelach), salty crackers, Baklava, Petit Beurre and the omnipresent wafers. Israelis consume lots of seeds (watermelon, pumpkin and sunflower), nuts (almonds, pistachios) and snacks such as Bamba (extruded corn snack), Bissli, potato crisps.
 
The Jewish weekly Sabbath meal commences with Challah (plaited egg loaf), followed by fish, chicken soup, chicken, meat, side dishes, salads and a dessert. Historically, the Jewish holidays are accompanied by customary dishes linked to the traditions and stories of each festival. Holiday dishes include cheese blintzes (Shavuot) , jelly doughnuts (Hanukah), matzo balls (Passover), and poppy seed filled pastries(Purim). 
 
Arab holidays also feature traditional dishes. Some national holidays are marked with barbecues, with steak, chicken, kebabs, shishlik, and sausages on the menu.